This story is about salty soles. Both feet. Simultaneously. Over the side of the boat, and onto the lake in the middle of a treacherous storm that made a bunch of hardened, burly fisherman quake.
The spotlight is on loud-mouthed Peter who is inviting himself into the ultimate game of truth or dare that will either forge his destiny or end his life—“If it is really you Lord, Jesus the Mighty One, tell me to come out there on the water.”
It’s a TikTok moment. The fish around the boat begin swimming in unison and the opening soundtrack for The Chosen begins to play: “Oh, child, come on in, jump in the water. Got no trouble with the mess you been, walk on the water . . .”
The house lights are down, the night hangs like closed black curtains and the black lake churns. Raindrops as big as grapes pelt the man’s exposed face as he white knuckles the side of the boat while it bucks like a rodeo bull. The occasional bolt of lightning highlights Peter’s gritted teeth and his bare feet. He precariously stands upright in the boat for a nano-second and as a crack of lightning electrifies the sky so the onlookers can bear witness, the man leaps.
There is no splash. Peter’s soles get salty as he walks on water as though it’s a concrete path.
Please note that Peter doesn’t roll up his suit pants and tuck a wad of theology into his waterproof back pocket, only dipping in his littlest toe while calculating the density of water and the probability of its walkability. Peter doesn’t wait til the circumstances are better, like a picturesque calm morning when the water is warm and crystal clear so he can ensure there is nothing dangerous lurking below. He doesn’t wait to don scuba gear and he hasn’t been doing a few laps in the local pool to get his fitness up in case the walking on water thing doesn’t work out. Peter hasn’t Instagram polled his mates (who are huddled on the bottom of the boat, sandals on), to find out what they think he should do.
And interestingly, Peter isn’t called to this extraordinary opportunity while sitting in the synagogue; he is going about his daily task of following Jesus. Peter leaps out of the boat in one of the gutsiest faith movements recorded in the Bible.
Why did Peter respond with an action when the others responded with motionlessness?
"Comfort stops us recognising our desperate need for God."
I believe what launched Peter was certainty. While he was uncertain of the outcome, he was certain of his call. Peter responded with an act of obedience.
Faith always involves action. If any of the disciples should be immortalised as an action figure, certainly Peter would be the top choice.
Brazen. Spontaneous. Enthusiastic.
He responded instantly because Jesus was his mate and Messiah. Peter’s faith response was a natural overflow of trust. Peter didn’t allow the possible (imagined) consequences to outweigh his invitation to faith.
Yes, faith like Peter’s sounds incredibly risky and illogical, and you are right. Standing up for an upside-down Kingdom will always contain risk.
But let’s talk for a minute about those sitting in boats with sandals on. Isn’t it just as dangerous to stay in the boat?
Lethargy is dangerous. A passionless existence numbs. A lack of urgency rocks us to sleep. Safety kills. Comfort stops us recognising our desperate need for God. Living risk-free curbs our innate responses to God; our hearts grow a little bit colder each time we reject the invitation to faith adventures, and our ears grow a little bit more deaf to His whispers. Our feet remain weak and salt free. Same as our souls.
Yes, faith is downright uncomfortable. It is meant to be the refiner’s fire (not the refiner’s couch). Faith is fortified when we respond at a deep, gut level to Jesus’ reckless love for us and we defy our head logic, society’s status quo and religious traditions that pathologise faithfulness.
And by the way, faith is only possible when there is a degree of uncertainty. If there is no uncertainty it cannot be called faith. It is not comfortable or peaceful swinging our legs out over the side of the boat.
Don’t be fooled, faith is the most uncomfortable thing we can do. The devil loves rocking the pew . . . to put people to sleep. So please stop praying for peace so you can do something in faith and start praying for courage while you unbuckle your sandals. The higher the uncertainty, the more faith is at our disposable. God is the source and completer of our faith.
On our best days when our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God bridges the gap.
Faith is recognising that the possibility of failure is high, and leaning into the belief that impossible things are the very realm that Jesus is sovereign over. “And surely He is with us always, to the very end of the age” (check out Matthew 28:19,20).
Isn’t our sole purpose to go—to let our salty souls obey the call to get salty soles in order to reach souls?
Rochelle Melville is an art therapist studying social work full time. She is passionate about helping people release their innate creativity for healing, wellbeing and worship.